'Part of life': B.C. premier walks back comments on heat wave after facing backlash

B.C.'s premier walked back comments he made Tuesday related to the devastating heat wave that has led to dozens of deaths in the province.

While speaking at a news conference about the province's restart plan, Premier John Horgan was asked about the government's support for locals as temperatures soared at the start of the week.

In Metro Vancouver alone, at least 134 sudden deaths were reported in recent days, with most related to the heat. 

"The public was acutely aware that we had a heat problem," Horgan said. "And we were doing our best to break through all of the other noise to encourage people to take steps to protect themselves."

The premier said he was waiting for further details on the recent deaths from the provincial coroner adding, "fatalities are a part of life" and that the causes of them "are examined by officials."

He also emphasized there was a "level of personal responsibility" for residents to look after themselves and each other.

Many locals took to social media to voice their disappointment in Horgan's comments.

Premier Horgan needs to issue a full public apology for his utterly callous response to the #HeatWaveBC deaths 'Fatalities are a part of life'

Those are people, those are families finding loved ones dead in their homes, and the count is rising#BCpoli

— #MaskUp (@matpVI) June 29, 2021

Too late . Damage is done .Not enough ambulances . Not enough nurses . No preparation . Premier Horgan blames us for not “ preparing “ and obviously didn’t reach out for help . It’s ok though because Horgan and Henry have informed us today that “ fatalities are part of life “ ��

— wendi bloomenthal (@wendibloomenth1) June 30, 2021

The heat wave is killing many more BC-ers per day than opioid overdoses and COVID combined are, currently. But Premier Horgan's foot-in-mouth response to a question posed to him about the heat wave deaths said, QUOTE: “fatalities are a part of life.” Thanks for that, John.

— Bob B. (@NoThebaine) June 30, 2021

Shortly after the news conference, a statement was put out on Horgan's Twitter saying his comments "didn't reflect" the fact that "mourning families deserve our compassion."

"Nothing can ease the pain of losing a loved one, whether it's from the unprecedented heat wave or any other cause," the tweet said.

"Please continue support one another and checking on your neighbours."

In a statement issued later Tuesday afternoon, B.C.'s chief coroner, Lisa Lapointe, said an excess of about 100 deaths were reported in recent days and said it's "suspected that extreme heat has been contributory."

"The Coroners Service would normally receive approximately 130 reports of death over a four-day period," the statement said.

"From Friday, June 25 through 3 p.m. on Monday, June 28, at least 233 deaths were reported … I extend my condolences to those who have lost a loved one during this unprecedented time."